Trends in the utilization of medicines sold in the private sector post- registration in South Africa and the implications for similar countries

Ntobeko Magnate Mpanza*, Brian Godman, Mothobi Godfrey Keele, Moliehi Matlala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Regulatory authorities register medicines for patients to access them within a reasonable period of time. There is a paucity of available data regarding the extent to which registered medicines reach the public after market authorisation is granted by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). This is important since time spent by SAHPRA assessing medicines that are subsequently not launched onto the South African market means time wasted, which could be spent on assessing new medicines that address an unmet need in the country. Consequently, we initially analysed the time taken for registered medicines to reach patients and the relationship between medicines registered at SAHPRA and those subsequently dispensed in private pharmacies. The extent of registration of multiple sourced versus new patented medicines was also explored. Methods: A retrospective, descriptive and quantitative investigation was conducted for medicines registered between 2014 and 2019. Registered and dispensed medicines were compared to establish accessibility post registration. Data sources included SAHPRA and IQVIA datasets. Microsoft Excel and SAS were used for data storage, analysis, and computation of descriptive statistical analysis. Results: Of (N = 2175) registered medicines, only 358 (16.5%; 95% CI 15.0%—18.1%) were dispensed to patients, and out of 1735 medicines registered between 2015 and 2019, only 57 (3.3%; 95% CI 2.5%—4.2%) were dispensed during the study period. Medicines acting on the central nervous system were registered and dispensed the most at 21.0% and 18.0%, respectively, whereas antineoplastic and immunomodulation agents were registered and dispensed only 11% and 5%, respectively. A concern was that only 13.0% of registered medicines were originators, with most either as generics, including branded generics, or pseudo-generics. Conclusion: Regulatory measures should be implemented to ensure increased medicine access post-registration for new originators, especially for priority disease areas that benefit patients. Mental health diseases and improved access to oncology medicines require special attention and further investigation in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number192
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Dispensed medicines
  • Marketing authorisation
  • Mental Health
  • Multiple sourced medicines
  • Private sector
  • Retail pharmacy
  • Single Exit Price
  • South Africa


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